Milkweed is the host plants for Monarch butterflies along with many other butterfly species. Milkweed is the attracting force for Monarch butterflies laying eggs, in addition Milkweed attracts hummingbirds and hummingbird clear-wing moths to the gardens as a source of nectar. Adult Monarchs and many other butterfly species love the nectar-rich milkweed as a food source, but Milkweed is also the only plant that Monarch caterpillars can eat, therefor vital for survival. Common milkweed is well known to most who live along the eastern half of the U.S. It grows along roadsides, in fields, and in open meadows. Producing sweet smelling pink flowers late into June through July, this common milkweed usually matures at about 48″ high. There are many different varieties of Milkweed however some people incorrectly assume common milkweed to be the only milkweed species which exists. In the USA alone however there is over a 100, while over 200 different species are growing worldwide.
There are 73 species of rare or threatened species of native milkweeds in the United States. Monarchs utilize about 30 of these as host plants with some regularity. For descriptions, distributions, growing conditions and images of each milkweed species targeted for restoration, please consult the Milkweed Profiles. Directions for milkweed propagation and instructions on how to create monarch habitats can also be found at Growing Milkweeds. Sources of milkweed seeds and plants can be found via our Milkweed Market and the Xerces Society’s Seed Finder.
This year, we are placing our Milkweed fields, now that the section has been cleaned up and securely reinforced. Prior to this year, we still were cleaning up the broken glass, rusted mental and refuge of garbage that old neighbors and old occupants threw about. Now in the Midwest and Northeast regions which extends from the east coast north of the 36th parallel, and westward beyond the 100th meridian share the same milkweed species although the need for seeds and plugs varies by eco-regions. These regions represent the main summer breeding areas for monarchs in the eastern United States. The main monarch host plant is Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed).